We stayed in São Paulo for 3 full days and the truth is that it was better than we expected. Everyone told us it was an ugly city, full of grey buildings and no beach. And part of that it's true. But there's much more to discover in São Paulo.
São Paulo is a huge city. That's the first (important) thing. And a city with this size has almost everything. From some of the best restaurants and shops in the world to the ugliest and tallest buildings. At first sight we felt it was an intimidating city but then we discovered interesting places and neighborhoods that made us think that São Paulo hides something really beautiful: its diversity. It is a city full of life, culture, art, movement and color. It is full of buildings but the nonexistent style just makes the city more mysterious and interesting to explore. And as a big city it is always changing and constantly moving with people from all over the world everywhere.
Thus, our top 6 things in São Paulo are (in no particular order):
#1: Terraço Itália (Praça da República) - The tallest building in São Paulo and where you can drink something while admiring the views. There is a fixed fee (R$30) just to seat in the bar but it deserves the money! From the terrace we could see almost all the city from above and it is the right place to understand the size of São Paulo.
#2: Modern Art Museum ("Museu de Arte de São Paulo" or MASP) - This was the museum that everyone recommended us because it is the most important gallery in South America. In fact, it has some of Europe's greatest paintings and they are disposed in a different way in the room (not in the walls like usually but in the middle of the room). The only "bad" thing about this museum is that the museum has a larger collection than it is able to expose and because of that only part of the collection is exposed (the collection is frequently rotated) which means that we could not see all the collection but only a tiny part of it.
#3: Afro-Brazilian Museum ("Museu Afro-Brasil" - Parque do Ibirapuera) - This museum lies inside Niemeyer's Pavilhão Manoel da Nobrega and it has more than 5,000 paintings, artifacts and other objects related with the Black Brazilian culture. We didn't have many expectations about this museum (no one told us about it and even our guide book just has 2 lines about it) but it was a big and positive surprise. It is full of interesting objects, documents, paintings, photos - but specially full of History! We thing everyone should see this museum and learn more about the world History and how this relationship between Africa and Brazil changed the world we live today.
#4: Pinacoteca (Luz) - One of the best museums we saw in São Paulo with works by Brazilian artists from the colonial and imperial eras. It is a very complete museum with detailed descriptions about the paintings and sculptures. The building is also gorgeous and there is a very nice coffee downstairs with a terrace in the garden ("Parque da Luz").
#5: São Bento Monastery ("Mosteiro de São Bento") - According to our guide book it is the most beautiful churches in São Paulo and after we saw it we cannot disagree. Inside it is gorgeous with colorful stained glass and dark but amazing walls. The church also has Brazil's finest organ.
#6: City center buildings - This is not exactly a place but several... At the city center (or "old town" like São Paulo residents call it) there are several amazing and beautiful buildings. Some of them remind us Manhattan in New York and we think it is a must-see for everyone visiting São Paulo city. Note: We couldn't use the camera a lot at the city center (too dangerous!) so most of the pictures were taken with the phone camera.
We saw other interesting places of course but these 6 are our top choices! Have you visited São Paulo? Do you agree with our top 5? What other places would you add to this list?